When the Carolina Hurricanes announced they’d hired Kirk Muller to replace former head coach Paul Maurice, it raised a few eyebrows. This is the same organization, after all, that always tended to keep things in house and seemed to favor familiarity above all else. Maurice was in his second go-round as head coach and GM Jim Rutherford has made a habit of reacquiring old ‘Canes — Erik Cole, Cory Stillman, Aaron Ward and Joe Corvo have all done two tours of duty in Carolina.
In this light, hiring Muller is like hiring a virtual stranger.
Or is it?
Turns out Captain Kirk has more ties to the franchise than you’d think:
— Brandon Sutter played for Canada at the U-18 World Championships in 2006. Muller was the team’s assistant coach.
— Muller and assistant coach Dave Lewis were teammates in New Jersey from 1984-86.
— Muller and Director of Hockey Operations Ron Francis played together for Team Canada at the 1985 IIHF World Championship.
— Muller and assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour were teammates on the 1992 Wales Conference All-Star team.
Okay, so Muller’s not exactly Mr. Hurricane (in fact, he’s one of the few coaches/development people on staff that didn’t play for Carolina), but perhaps that’s a good thing. The ‘Canes have been stuck in retread mode ever since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006 and needed to breathe some new life into the organization.
Muller, one of the hottest coaching prospects on the market, is a coup for Rutherford and company. He also brings a seasoned NHL playing resume to the job, something previous ‘Canes coaches lacked. Maurice never made the NHL as a player while Peter Laviolette only saw action in 12 big league contests.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.